Popular Action in As-Suwayda Aims at Housing Daraa’s IDPs
In the governorate of As-Suwayda, the people, activists and the active humanitarian organizations took action to welcome the people displaced from Daraa, as a step to combat what they have all agreed to describe as a “sedition” that the Syrian regime seeks to entice between the neighboring governorates, following the intense military offensive against Daraa.
As a first step, a number of local organizations and civil associations began the establishment of housing centers, sufficient to accommodate the massive number of Daraa’s displaced people as a result of Assad’s forces progress at the expense of the opposition factions, which forced thousands of Daraa’s people to depart with their houses, towns and cities for fear of reprisals.
A few families have also taken it on themselves to support the people of As-Suwayda financially, by providing them with the supplies required by the housing centers and the displacement positions, and morally, through stressing that they will face the regime’s attempt at triggering a sedition.
In coordination between Syrian organizations and the “UN Refugee Agency,” it was decided to locate the housing center at the gate of the al-Qurayya town, southern rural As-Suwayda, which have the capacity to host a thousand families. The center is formed through transforming the former “Revolutionary Youth Union” football stadium into a habitable place, ready to receive the displaced people.
The project witnessed the cooperation of the “Syrian Arab Red Crescent”, “Syria Trust for Development”, “Syrian Association for Development”, the “Department of Ecumenical Relations and Development” (DERD), the “Red Crescent Relief Committee” which joined efforts with the regime’s consent.
Amer Ibrahim al-A’shi, the governor of As-Suwayda, met Malek al-Sajid, the director of the “UN Refugee Agency” Office in Syria, at a time where international organizations are not allowed to function without getting the Provisional Department’s approval or a security permit.
One of the newly established housing center in the town of al-Qurayya (refused to reveal his name or refer to the organization where he is employed for personal reasons) confirmed to Enab Baladi that the center will start functioning once the al-Rasas town’s housing center, to the south of the city of As-Suwayda, is run out of the capacity to accommodate additional IDPs.
He explained that the al-Rasas Center is yet capable of housing about 500 families, pointing out that the Ghouta crisis has provided the As-Suwayda’s relief teams with ban-aid relief experience, which helped them establish a number of makeshift housing centers in two days only.
The worker has also stressed that he and his colleagues are working on preparing their emergency and relief teams as to offer quick response on emergencies and provide Daraa’s civilians with needed aid.
“Our Wound and Our Salt Are One”
Conceding with the organized relief action, the people of As-Suwayda are also preparing to support the displaced people, for small civil groups are working to cover a few of the newcomers’ urgent needs.
On “Facebook” and under the “Bytee Ana Bytk” Relief Committee’s, (May Home is Your Home) initiative, people from the city of Shahba called on people to urgently donate needed home supplies and furniture, following “the increasing emergency displacement, which forced the people to leave their homes unexpectedly.”
The “Citizenship and Civil Peace” Committees in Shahba have issued a statement, calling for the protection of civil peace and stressing coexistence between the two governorates (Daraa and As-Suwayda ) to face inflammatory and hate speech, as well as to neutralize civilians. The statement was opened by the following sentence: “Our plain, our mounting, our wound and our salt are all one […] Our pain and our hope are one; this is said by the past and will be said by the future.”
The “Opposition National Consensus Forces” in the governorate has also made a statement, of a sharper tune however, condemning the regime’s attempts at “enhancing the sedition at the expense of innocent people’s lives.”
The statement directed an overt and open accusation at the Syrian regime and held it accountable for “the random mortar shells that fell on the governorate in the past two weeks.” It also declared “the Census’ unconditional solidarity with the people of Hauran Plain.”
“I Am from Hauran”
Activists from As-Suwayda have, for the past two weeks, been impeding the “I Am from Hauran” hashtag in their posts on various social media platforms to express their solidarity with Daraa people, pointing out to their impotence towards what is happening on the ground.
A massive number of As-Suwayda people, inside and outside the governorate, have changed their “Facebook” profile pictures, with a photo of a red background, featuring “I Am from Hauran” sentence; others used a frame consisting of the revolution’s flag and “I Am from Daraa” sentence.
As-Suwayda people’s accounts have been filled with different posts calling for enhancing civil peace. Some of these posts pointed out to the two governorates’ mutual history, interests and the similar inherited traditions.
Enab Baldi interviewed an anti-regime activist in As-Suwayda, who uses his personal account to face the sedition and to highlight the convergence between Daraa and As-Suwayda.
Activist Alaa Braik, from As-Suwayda, said that “I stand with the right of our people in Hauran to defend their land and lives in the face of the campaign launched by the regime and its partners, which as usual are using the scorched land policy that annihilates people and stones, as well as stress what is already stressed that there is no terrorism above that of the Syrian regime and those backing it.”
“The regime’s success at regaining control over Daraa will later help it focus on As-Suwayda and suffocate all the voices that opposed the regime or even those that called for neutralizing the governorate,” he added.
Braik sent As-Suwayda’s people a message during the interview, in which he said, “I wish that this message will reach our people in the mountain, al-Arab Mountain; As-Suwayda’s fate is linked to that of Daraa and that the regime’s success in vanquishing Daraa, definitely means defeating As-Suwayda and the destruction of all that the rational voices in the two governorates have been trying to do in the past years.”
Opinion Poll: The Regime Succeeds in Enticing a Sedition
A poll, published by Enab Baladi on its website and its page on “Facebook”, stated that the majority of the readers believe that the regime has succeeded in creating a sedition between the people of Daraa and As-Suwayda, following the latest military offensive.
Enab Baladi proposed the following question: “Would the Syrian regime succeed in enticing a sedition between the people in Daraa and As-Suwayda in support of its military goals?”
Out of the 830 users who participated in the poll, 46% choose “yes”, and 30% others refuted that regime’s success in creating a sedition, voting “No”.
The less percentage was that of the users who could not make up their minds about the subject matter, for 24% users have chosen “I don’t know”.
The comments and interaction with the “Facebook” poll post was negative, in agreement with the above-mentioned percentages.
The user “Abu Ahmad” said that the regime has succeeded in triggering a sedition a long time ago, which is not limited to the present. “Ameer”, another user, said that the regime and its allies have worked on the sedition since the very first months of the Syrian revolution.